As October 2018 comes to a close, Novo Amor (born Ali John Meredith-Lacey) can finally say he has released a full-length album. The Welsh singer-songwriter and musical renaissance man’s debut LP, titled “Birthplace,” was released Oct. 19, marking the end of a steady six-year progression.
In 2012, Novo Amor self-released a two-song single titled “Drift,” doing so under his newly formed moniker of Novo Amor. Novo Amor released a small, four-song project March 31, 2014 that was written both in a barn in The Lake District in the United Kingdom and in his Welsh home studio. The EP, which was titled “Woodgate, NY,” marked Novo Amor’s emergence into the musical world as a true artist, as he had signed with the Norwegian label Brilliance Records.
Since “Woodgate, NY,” Novo Amor has gone nowhere but forward. He fully embraced the spiritually calming qualities of his music, releasing serene singles in 2016 such as “Alps” and “Carry You” before releasing an EP in May 2017 with the title of “Bathing Beach.”
“Birthplace” is Novo Amor’s first fully-fledged product, and it delivers on all that could possibly be wanted from him. The album is a continuation of Novo Amor’s echoed style, seemingly elevated and even cleaner. He seems to be honing his sound, and sharpening his musical abilities with each passing song. The 10-track, 33-minute record leaves no wasted space, making it a joy to listen to.
The Welshman’s music is a rare find in the modern era of music, but to an experienced indie music listener there are wisps that sound all too familiar. His melodic instrumental accompaniments pair perfectly with his Bon Iver-esque vocals, creating a beautiful flow to his songs.
Novo Amor can play seven instruments, and frequently incorporates his personal touches and skill into his music — especially with his usage of violin in the background of several of his songs. It is especially noticeable on the title track “Birthplace,” as there are several rests in the song with almost no other sound beyond the violin and the occasional banjo — both of which Novo Amor plays.
One could very easily get entranced by Novo Amor’s skillful music, but along with the beauty and grace of his instruments come profoundly sad lyrics. The name “Novo Amor” is translated from Portuguese to mean “New Love,” which was confirmed by Novo Amor in a tweet. After being involved in a break-up in 2012, the moniker was founded upon the basis that his “new love” was in music, which he explained in an interview with Thomas Curry in May 2014.
The record’s opening song “Emigrate” is an intimate and folksy tune that one would play while staring out across a shoreline with the winds whipping around you in the cold gray. With that mental image in mind, the lyrics provide context to the tone of the song.
As the chorus rings out, “Hardly anything works now,” the person in the song is struggling with loneliness after depending on someone for so long. Now that the person is out of their life, the narrator has almost lost their sense of self, seeming to have nearly forgotten who they used to be.
The title track, “Birthplace,” is a call to arms about the littering of plastic into the oceans, and is saying that there is no other place to live. We have the Earth, and nothing else. Accompanying the song is a stunning music video, in which Novo Amor and the film crew he worked with spent over 35 hours underwater in Indonesia.
As Novo Amor has explained himself, there is an overarching theme of defining one’s character in the record. Novo Amor makes several references to the state of New York in not only previous EPs and songs, but also several more times in “Birthplace.” “Utican” could be taken as a term for a person from the city of Utica. The shortest song on the record, “13494,” refers to Woodgate, New York’s area code. The two cities are only 34 and-a-half miles away. The song “Seneca” could very well be an ode to the largest of The Finger Lakes, and could be Novo Amor’s personal favorite lake in New York. The record’s closing track, “Oh, Round Lake,” could also a be a New York reference to the small town of Round Lake.
All of these references to New York could be Novo Amor highlighting the influence this Northeastern state has had on his character, allowing him to draw from the state’s natural beauty to find himself and his music.
“Birthplace” has the feel of a seasoned artist putting smooth touches onto the record, and this is only Novo Amor’s beginning. He will be going on tour in the fall, and will be in New York City and Washington D.C. during his North America section. After that, more will surely follow, and odds are it will be just as good.